Dear Robert Scoble, No. Sorry.

by Ben Smith on 10th July 2009

Hot news from the ‘Travelling Geeks‘ tour that hit the UK this week – Robert Scoble’s just blogged that ‘Europe no longer matters to lead position in mobile‘.  He makes a number of observations:

  1. Robert Scoble (Image by Thomas Hawk - used under Creative Commons license)

    Robert Scoble (Image by Thomas Hawk - used under Creative Commons license)

    That European consumers are ‘stuck in a texting rut’, but people in San Francisco/ New York understand the importance of the mobile web.

  2. That Europeans are stuck buying sub-standard phones from Nokia versus superior phones from Google, Apple and Palm.

Nokia certainly is behind the curve – they have the volume, but have lost the innovation initiative – but that’s where Robert stops being right…

  1. Comparing Robert’s ‘digital elite’ peer group from San Francisco with all of Europe is ridiculous.  Like for like, Europeans have access to cheaper, faster networks and consume 10% more mobile web than their US counterparts.
  2. European’s are no more ‘stuck’ with Nokia devices than Americas are ‘stuck’ with the iPhone… the G1, iPhone and Pre are all available in Europe now (or within months for the Pre) and we’re buying plenty of them. Smartphone sales are predicted to grow by 16% in Western Europe versus 3% worldwide.
  3. Nokia may not be innovating in Europe, but others are… witness INQ and their 2009 GSMA ‘best handset’ award-winning INQ1 which pioneered many of the social network features the Palm Pre includes.
  4. Counting Google as a US handset supplier is a bit clueless… most Android handsets are manufactured by HTC (from Taiwan) so far and Google house much of their mobile operations in London.  More recent handsets like the HTC Magic, Hero and Samsung’s i7500 have all launched or announced to European markets first.

The kick-start the iPhone gave the US mobile industry has certainly returned them to an important position – and Europe’s lost some bragging-rights (although y’all still love the phone holsters, no?) – but Europe irrelevant?  Not yet…  As Robert goes on to note, far more innovation is going on in the provision of mobile apps and services for smartphones and regardless who created the platform, Europe’s contributing some of the most exciting apps out there

For a more thoughtful consideration of the differences between the US / Europe see these posts based on actual facts(!)

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